Functional evaluation of the urinary tract by color-Doppler ultrasonography (CDU) in 100 patients with renal colic

Pietro Pepe, Luigi Motta, Michele Pennisi, Francesco Aragona
European Journal of Radiology 2005, 53 (1): 131-5

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if the addition of a renal color-Doppler ultrasonography (CDU) in the setting of acute renal colic improves the sensitivity of conventional sonography.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between July 2002 and June 2003, 100 patients (median 49 years) with renal colic have been evaluated. Within 24 h of the admission, a CDU study of the urinary tract was performed using a sonograph GE Logiq 500 PRO with a multifrequency (3-5 MHz) convex probe. The following parameters were evaluated: ultrasonography (US) of both kidneys, ureters and bladder; resistive index (RI) of the arciform arteries of both kidneys in three different parenchymal areas; ureteric jets in response to hydration. A renal RI>0.70 and/or a 10% difference between the kidneys were considered as diagnostic of obstructive uropathy; an asymmetric and/or reduced ureteric jet from the ureteric orifices was an additional indicator of obstruction. All patients underwent a CT scan both with and without the administration of contrast medium.

RESULTS: Enhanced helical CT demonstrated an urinary stone in 90 out of the 100 patients (90%): 29 pyelic, 28 at the pyelo-ureteral junction, 23 lumbo-iliac and 10 juxtavesical stones. Among 90 patients with urolithiasis, the stone was undetectable with US in 11 cases (12.2%); in 8 cases (8.9%) pyelocalicectasis was absent, and in 6 patients (6.6%) a non-obstructive hydronephrosis was present. Median RI in obstructed and non-obstructed kidney was 0.73 (range 0.71-0.87) versus 0.62 (0.50-0.68), respectively; in two, obstructed kidneys RI was <0.70 but greater than 10% compared with normal side. Sensitivity and specificity of US, CDU (RI+ureteric jet), unenhanced helical CT and CDU in association with unenhanced helical CT were 94.8 and 55.5, 98.9 and 90.9, 100 and 100%, respectively.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: CDU in patients with renal colic and/or pelvicalicectasis improves the diagnostic accuracy of US in distinguishing between obstructive and non-obstructive dilatation. Combined with unenhanced CT, CDU has a 100% sensitivity and specificity. Moreover, due to the absence of contraindications and side-effects, CDU is indicated for the follow-up of patients after ESWL, pregnant women and children.

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